Monday, August 2, 2010

Much older than we had imagined

Several Australians have become notorious for their Creationist beliefs. First and foremost, of course, there's the Queenslander Ken Ham, who went to the USA and founded a museum with exhibits that show our ancestors frolicking around with dinosaurs.

If you're a bit masochistic, and you would like to hear the voice of the Holy Ham in an auto-tuning context, then click here. Clearly, if this guy gets any loonier, he'll end up getting put away… or maybe elected by Creationist supporters as Aussie of the Year.

Another remarkably dumb Aussie is now well-known on the web. In March, when Richard Dawkins was out in Australia for the Atheist Convention, he found himself seated alongside a senator, Steve Fielding, whose utterances revealed that he was a so-called "young-Earth Creationist". That's to say, this elected pollie really believes that our planet was created less than 10,000 years ago. The amusing encounter of Dawkins and Fielding can be seen in the following video:

Apparently Dawkins said jokingly, later on, that the intelligence of Steve Fielding was surely akin to that of an earthworm…

Yesterday, a delightful anecdote was aired on the Pharyngula blog of PZ Myers in an article entitled Australians are learning what it means to have creationists in the classroom [display]. During a scripture lesson in a Queensland school, when the religious instructor evoked Adam and Eve as the ancestors of all humans, a student complained that such a narrow stock of original DNA would have led to catastrophic inbreeding. The instructor replied that, at the time of Adam and Eve, "DNA wasn't yet invented". Hilarious commentators were quick to point out the magical power of this kind of argument. One might imagine that all kinds of marvelous things took place, for example, before the "invention" of the laws of science, or even the "invention" of good old common sense!

At the same time that these specimens of brainless tripe are giving us a laugh, amazing progress is being made in the dating of animal life on Earth. The following photo shows us a small fossil that was found recently in Gabon by a French geologist, Abderrazak El Albani, attached to the university of Poitiers.

For many years, paleontologists have considered that the first multicellular animals of this kind appeared in the ocean some 600 million years ago. Well, that date will have to be readjusted greatly, because the above fossil was found in a rocky site whose age is 2.1 billion years!

Yesterday, French people were thrilled to learn that the fine city of Albi in south-west France—where the medieval Christian sect of Catharism came into being—has just become a Unesco world-heritage site.

The geologist El Albani, who has found that multicellular life is 1.5 billion years older than what we had previously thought, is intent upon getting the home of his fossil in Gabon honored as a Unesco world-heritage site. I find that a splendid idea, in the sense that it emphasizes the fact that scientific knowledge is a basic part of our cultural heritage.

No comments:

Post a Comment